Extract from an article published in the book of the fiftieth anniversary of AIM "So far yet so near"
The Indo-Sri Lankan Benedictine Federation (ISBF)
Vincent Korandiarkunnel, osb
The Indo-Sri Lankan Benedictine Federation is the outcome of and a further development of the Bangkok Congress of 1968 organised by AIM for the purpose of discussing monasticism in Asia. The first meeting of the Monastic Superiors in Asia, held at Bangkok, Thailand, from 9 to 15 December 1968, achieved a true spiritual breakthrough. It brought together for the first time responsible representatives of all the Monastic Orders in East Asia and besides kindred spirits to discuss the present and future of monasticism in the East. Present were a number of personalities, members of the hierarchy, including Archbishop Lourdusamy of Bangalore, monks, missionaries, laymen and experts on the subjects connected with monastic life, all involved in the post-conciliar renewal, especially in the cultural adaptation in the light of Vatican II.
The first meeting of the Indian Benedictines was held on 27-28 November 1969 at Asirvanam monastery, Bangalore by its original three members – Shantivanam, Asirvanam, and Shanti Nilayam. Gradually more Benedictine communities in India joined. At first the name adopted was Indian Monastic Union (IMU); but later it was felt that the Sanskrit word “Samaj” was more appropriate in the Indian context. So it became the Monastic Samaj. At the eighth Governing Body Meeting held on 25 October 1978 it was decided that in future this would be known as Monastic Union India. Again at the ninth
Governing Body Meeting held on 17 December 1981 the name was changed to Indian Benedictine Federation. Its guiding spirit was Dom Mayeul de Dreuille, OSB, who had the vision to foresee its potential for the future growth and greater good of the Benedictines in this part of the world.
At the request of the Benedictines in Sri Lanka, the Indian Benedictine Federation was expanded to include them. It was accordingly renamed “The Indo-Sri Lankan Benedictine Federation” in 1995.Thus the original idea of an Indo-Sri Lankan Benedictine Federation of the Bangkok Congress of 1968 was reborn. At present there are sixtyfive monasteries under the Indo-Sri Lankan Benedictine Federation.
The Objectives of ISBF
a) To promote Benedictine monastic life.
b) To develop friendly relationship among the members of ISBF.
c) To organise, among the members of the ISBF, a forum for collaboration, consultation, decision making, mutual help and for wider service among its members.
d) To encourage contact with other Monastic Unions, in order to procure knowledge and to foster reflection on common concerns.
e) To make arrangements for resource personnel for retreats and courses, and to set up Centres for common monastic studies, religious renewal, on-going formation, and inculturation.
f ) To represent the interests of the members before civil and religious authorities.
g) To provide the opportunity for sharing the needs, problems, suggestions, observations, and experiences of the different members of ISBF.
h) To encourage and promote different forms of monastic service in the local Church.
i) To promote ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue.
The Activities of ISBF
The ISBF is trying its best to implement the above mentioned objectives. As the one of the aims of the Federation is mutual support and cooperation among members of the Federation, periodical meetings have been held to discuss or exchange views on matters of common interest. ISBF organises a General Body Meeting every year and this meeting is held in various monasteries of ISBF. Almost all the superiors participate in the General Body Meeting; at least two papers are presented on a relevant monastic theme in the General Body Meeting. After the presentation of the papers there is group discussion on the papers presented. It helps us to enrich our knowledge in monastic topics. ISBF organizes various courses every year: courses for the formators, the novices, the junior monks, and the junior sisters. Besides these courses, ISBF conducts a one-month Monastic Institute Course for solemnly professed members and students of theology on monastic spirituality and theology for three years continuously. Those who attend this course have to write review on a book in monastic spirituality every year and write a thesis on monastic topic. Those who fulfill the basic requirements of the course are given certificates. At present we have a mobile institute course. It means that the various courses of ISBF are conducted in various monasteries. We strongly feel that we need a permanent Monastic Institute to conduct various courses.
The ISBF organizes interreligious dialogue and the first efforts at inter-religious dialogues have proved fruitful and have led to the establishment of Benedictine Interreligious Dialogue (BID) in India and Sri Lanka. AIM helps ISBF considerably by providing resources in personnel and some training materials, together with assistance in organizing seminars, various courses and for inter-religious dialogue. The members of ISBF collaborate and cooperate well to make the activities of ISBF more fruitful by sharing the resource personnel for retreats and various courses.
An Editorial Team has been established as a part of the ISBF for the purpose of publishing and disseminating literature pertinaing to monastic themes. It also provides a forum for individual monks or communities to communicate the findings of their research, study and reflection to a larger readership. The ISBF has already published some books. The ISBF has translated the Rule of St Benedict into different languages and published them.
The ISBF looks forward to further growth and new developments in the expansion of Benedictine monasticism in India and Sri Lanka.
MONASTERIES OF MONKS
1. Assam – Ashir Sadan
2. Bangalore – Asirvanam Monastery
3. Iritty – Benhill Monastery
4. Kottayam – Carlos Dayara
5. Bangalore – Gualbert Bhavan
6. Shivpuri – Jeevan Jyothi Ashram
7. Navajeevan – Vijayawada
8. Cumban – Punitha Thomiyar Malai
9. Thannirpalli – Shantivanam
10. Anakkara – St. Benedict’s
11. Eluru – St. Benedict’s
12. Melukavumattan – St. Benedict’s
13. Sivagangai – St. Benedict’s
14. Makkiyad – St. Joseph’s
15. Kottayam – St. Kuriakose S.S.S. & Junior College
16. Kumily – St. Michael’s Priory
17. Kappadu – St. Thomas Abbey
18. Kaikottai – Vallombrosan Farm
19. Bangalore – Vanashram
MONASTERIES OF NUNS/SISTERS
20. Kottayam – Amala Bhavan
21. Thannirpalli– Ananda Ashram
22. Makkiyad – Ananda Matha Ashram
23. Kadaba – Arogyamatha
24. Indrapuri – Ashir Bhavan
25. Bhopal – Ashir Bhavan Priory
26. Mandala – Benedict Bhavan
27. Lucknow – Benedict Nivas
28. Kadapa – Benedict Sadan
29. Bhopal – Devamatha
30. Tiruvannamalai – Grace and Compassion Priory
31. Yercaud – House of Peace
32. Gujarat – Ishwar
33. Mysore – Jnanodaya Ashram
34. Barasia – Karuna Sadan
35. Perambra – Lioba Bhavan
36. Bangalore – Lioba Sadan
37. Kottayam – Little Daughters of St. J.G.
38. Misrod – Maria Bhavan
39. Nallathanny – Nava Jyothi
40. Bangalore – Our Lady of Light
41. Bhopal – Pastoral Center
42. Sijhora – Sevalaya
43. Tulsipur – Sevashram
44. Meghanagar – Shanti Bavan
45. Bangalore – Shanti Nilayam Abbey
46. Punalur – Shanti Nivas
47. Begumganj – Sneha Bhavan
48. Kalidevi – Sneha Bhavan
49. Kalidevi – Sneha Sadan
50. Konthuruthy – St. Benedict’s
51. Kottayam – St. Joseph’s Old Age Home
52. Makkiyad – St. Scholastica’s
53. Meghalaya – St. Scholastica’s
54. Bangalore – Umilta Sadan
55. Dindigul – Maria Rosa Mystica Monastery